Summary

Crohn?s disease causes inflammation of your bowel. Surgery is usually recommended if medication fails to improve your symptoms.

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of your bowel. The disease most often affects the end part of your small bowel (see figure 1)Abdominal surgery for crohn's disease. However, it can affect any part of your bowel.

Crohn’s disease causes your bowel wall to thicken, which can block food from passing through. The affected area of your bowel can also fail to absorb nutrients from your food.

Left untreated, you can get problems such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, a hole in your bowel, problems with your back passage and fluid leaking out.

What are the benefits of surgery?


Your symptoms should improve. Your doctor may also be able to reduce or stop your medication.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?


Crohn’s disease can be treated using medication, such as mesalazine, steroids, azathioprine and infliximab. These have side effects and your doctor will discuss them with you.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes an hour to 90 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut on your abdomen and remove the diseased part of your small bowel. They will often also need to remove a part of your large bowel.

Your surgeon will usually join the ends of your bowel back together. If they are unable to join the ends of your bowel, they will make a colostomy or ileostomy.

What complications can happen?


1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Developing a hernia
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine

2 Specific complications

  • Anastomotic leak
  • Continued bowel paralysis
  • Damage to other structures inside your abdomen
  • Injury to your bowel
  • Abnormal joining together of tissue (adhesions)
  • Death

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 5 to 10 days.

It may take up to three months for you to recover fully. Most people feel much better after the diseased part of their bowel has been removed.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Crohn’s disease sometimes comes back and affects another part of your bowel.

Acknowledgements


Author: Mr Jonathan Lund DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
Illustrations: LifeART image copyright 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.-Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved

Abdominal surgery for crohn's disease - download PDF version

More information

Surgical brochures

The following content is displayed as Tabs. Once you have activated a link navigate to the end of the list to view its associated content. The activated link is defined as Active Tab

Anaesthetic

Ear nose throat

Endoscopy

Eyes

Gastrointestinal - lower

Gastrointestinal - upper

General surgery

Heart and lungs

Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Orthopaedic

Urinary tract

Content Partner

Disclaimer and copyright information EIDO Healthcare Ltd

Last updated: July 2017

This web page is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

The operation and treatment information on this page is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Better Health Channel. The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use.

©2017 EIDO Healthcare Ltd